Rare Rides: The Ford Versailles Ghia From 1993 - a Quantum Experiment

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

The recent news of the potential alliance brewing between Ford and Volkswagen seems like a novel idea. But what if I told you it was already tried long ago?

Come along, we’re taking a trip to Versailles.

Ford likes to use Versailles as a model name. It used Versailles in the 1950s in Europe, where the sedan was a rebadge of the Simca Vedette in places where Simca cars were not popular. Ford used the name again in the Malaise Era, when it brought forth the fantastic new Lincoln Versailles — based on the equally fantastic Ford Granada family sedan (which was just like a Mercedes, you know). Most recently, the Versailles lettering was applied to a Brazilian-market series of family cars which were actually Volkswagens.

The new Versailles model was a much-needed replacement for Ford’s Del Rey, which had been on offer in Brazil and surrounding markets since 1981. Much like the potential upcoming alliance, Ford produced the Del Rey domestically within Brazil, then decided to change course. In the late 1980s, amid a very poor Brazilian economy, Ford telephoned Volkswagen.

It was a marriage of convenience. Volkswagen, like Ford, already had large-scale production facilities within Brazil. The two companies decided it would be easier to cooperate via a joint venture rather than duke it out during struggling times, as both of them produced full lines for the same customer. AutoLatina was formed. VW’s Brazilian arm had a controlling interest of 51 percent, and Ford Brazil held the remaining 49 percent. The two companies would split responsibilities for product lines. Volkswagen took charge of the passenger cars, while Ford handled the trucks.

Headlining the Ford sedan offerings from AutoLatina was the Versailles.

Starting with the Volkswagen Quantum (which Americans called Passat), the Versailles four-door sedan was accompanied by the Royale model, which was a three-door wagon. The cars were ready for sale in 1992 after a bit of badge swapping and front- and rear-end modifications. The Versailles and others were sold at Brazilian Ford dealers, while Volkswagen dealers down the road carried their range of (nearly identical) Quantum offerings.

Despite the joint effort, both companies saw a loss of market share by the mid-90s. It just wasn’t going to work. 1996 would be the last model year for the Versailles and its brethren, as the AutoLatina partnership dissolved some time in 1995.

Today’s Rare Ride is located in Brazil. It’s a top trim Ghia model, with a 2.0-liter inline-four Volkswagen engine and an automatic transmission. With a little over 79,000 miles on the odometer, a heckblende, and lace alloys, the Versailles Ghia asks $4,368 USD.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Dec 12, 2018

    The instrument panel is Ford, especially the dash venton the ends that look like they'd be at home in a late '80s Thunderbird or Taurus, while the shifter and quadrant look just like the one in my '78 Audi Fox.

  • DRdR DRdR on Dec 12, 2018

    My Father had one of these, a 93 model with a carburetor, which was much cheaper than the injection model. He bought it in the late 90s and drove it well into the 2000s. The engine belonged to the AP series developed between VW and Audi, and many Ford cars equipped them, especially the Escort. Look closely and you will realise the doors are the ones in the 1983 VW Passat. The car on the whole was comfortable, if kind of slow. Compared to the 1982 Cortina we had before, the Galaxy (in Argentina the Versailles name was dropped in favour of Galaxy) was so much better in every department. Another one-off product of that joint venture was the VW Pointer, nice little car. One of those in GTI trim could fetch 10.000 dollars in pristine condition.

  • Aja8888 Folks, this car is big enough to live in. Dual deal: house and car for $7 large.
  • Astigmatism I don't think tax credits will put me in this league, but if I could swing it, I would 1000% go for a restomod EV Grand Wagoneer: https://www.thedrive.com/news/you-can-buy-an-electric-80s-jeep-grand-wagoneer-for-295000
  • FreedMike I like the looks of the Z, but I'd take the Mustang. V8s are a disappearing breed.
  • Picard234 I can just smell the clove cigarettes and the "oregano" from the interior. Absolutely no dice at any price.
  • Dartdude The Europeans don't understand the American market. That is why they are small players here. Chrysler Group is going to die pretty soon under their control. Europeans have a sense of superiority over Americans that is why the Mercedes merger didn't work out and almost killed Chrysler. Bringing European managers aren't going to help. Just like F1 they want our money. We need Elon Musk to buy out Chrysler, Dodge and Ram from Stellantis.
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